Fat Loss

Lose Fat Not Muscle

Losing weight can be very motivating. Every pound loss is closer to your goal right? But while you’re celebrating little victories on the scale, you might be losing more than just unwanted weight.

In order for you to have effective weight loss you have to consume a lower energy amount than total energy expenditure for a prolonged period of time. So the old adage of calories in versus calories out holds truth. As a result of this energy imbalance, your body can use multiple options for fuel. And you don't want one of those options to be muscle.

During normal weight loss, it’s generally expected that you lose fat and lean body mass in a ratio of about 3 to 1, meaning 25 percent of the loss is not from body fat, but from tissues like muscle. If you decide to be more aggressive with your weight-loss program, the amount of lean body mass loss can increase even more drastically.

You do not want this to happen.

Muscle is something you want to keep around. Muscle plays an important role in the regulation of resting energy expenditure. Which means the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism is when you aren't moving. This explains why you would be hungrier when you are following a resistance training program. The amount of calories you burn every day just resting is strongly correlated with the amount of lean body mass you have. Resting energy expenditure represents 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn in a day so clearly the amount of muscle you have is important.

Muscle is also the body’s primary site of glucose uptake. Muscle stores carbohydrates for energy. This is important because it could help offset diseases like diabetes.

Muscle tissue acts as a fuel source and stores some fat and carbohydrates, but it’s mostly made up of proteins. Proteins are responsible for nearly every cellular task in the body. They function to form enzymes, hormones, and tissues. Protein is essential to life and, if needed, muscle can be broken down to be used in other processes.

How do you protect muscle during weight loss?

Exercise will help you keep muscle during weight loss, but what you eat and when you eat can make a large impact as well. One key component is making sure your protein consumption is adequate for your body. A general requirement for protein is in the range of 0.8 to 09 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. This comes out to be 70 to 90 grams of protein per day for a person that weighs 200 pounds. Those requirements are minimal intakes to sustain normal function for the body. Those who are looking to optimize their lean body mass during weight loss will be at a loss if those minimal requirements aren't increased. Those upper limits could be in the range of 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This comes out to be about 109 to 200 grams of protein day for a person that weighs 200 pounds.

Research has shown that higher protein intakes of 25 to 35 percent of total daily calories from protein can offset the muscle loss and also promote greater reductions of fat and total body mass compared with normal protein intakes of 12 to 15 percent of total daily calories from protein.

We have established that an adequate protein consumption helps lean mass retention during weight loss. But sufficient protein consumption also gives the body a greater thermogenic effect upon consumption compared with carbohydrate and fat. Your body doesn't just burn calories during exercise, it does it during digestion too. The thermic effect of food is the caloric cost of digesting and processing different macronutrients in your diet. Protein also offers a greater satiety response. When you consume a suitable amount of protein from your diet you feel fuller longer. This helps you not to feel terribly hunger during the day and gives the potential for greater weight loss and to be more specific, fat loss.

For better quality weight loss you want to preserve your muscle. weight. Losing too fast and not getting enough protein daily can lead to substantial muscle loss. But through consuming enough protein, and eating multiple high quality protein meals per day you’ll more effectively lose fat, not muscle.

Can Fat Be Turned Into Muscle?

This question is more common than you may believe: Can you turn body fat into muscle? The answer is simple. No.

You can work to burn fat and replace it with muscle. But we can't turn body fat into rock solid muscle. You need to understand how resistance exercise leads to building muscle to grasp what I mean. 

Let’s take weight training as an example. Lifting a weight increases muscle mass by first damaging muscle on a cellular level. The process then activates a ton of signals in the muscle that tell your body to turn the proteins you eat into new muscle tissue as a repair mechanism. That mechanism is what’s known as muscle protein synthesis. 

Having enough protein in your diet will help you build new tissue. The other nutrients like carbohydrates and fats are generally used as energy to fuel exercise.  

It’s important to understand this process since energy status is related to fat stores in your body.

Weightlifting can indirectly decrease fat stores. Body fat fuels both the muscle-building process and acts as an energy source for the exercise that is needed to damage muscle. 

You can't turn fat into muscle.
You can't turn muscle into fat. 

They are completely different on a structural level. 

Muscle is made up of amino acids and fat does not contain any amino acids on a structural level. 

The vast majority of muscle built is from dietary protein intake.

In summary, lifting weights can both build muscle and help with fat loss. They are two separate results and not one being the result of another.